Wildland Fire Chain Saws S- 212

Wildland Fire Chain Saw Glossary

Pre-course Work
NFES 2644 FEBRUARY, 2004

Description of the Performance Based System The NWCG Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualifications System is a “performance-based” qualifications system. In this system, the primary criterion for qualification is individual performance as observed by an evaluator using approved standards. This system differs from previous wildland fire qualifications systems which have been “training based.” Training based systems use the completion of training courses or a passing score on an examination as a primary criteria for qualification. A performance-based system has two advantages over a training based system: • Qualification is based upon real performance, as measured on the job, versus perceived performance, as measured by an examination or classroom activities. Personnel who have learned skills from sources outside wildland fire suppression, such as agency specific training programs or training and work in prescribed fire, structural fire, law enforcement, search and rescue, etc., may not be required to complete specific courses in order to qualify in a wildfire position. 1. The components of the wildland fire qualifications system are as follows: a. Position Task Books (PTB) contain all critical tasks which are required to perform the job. PTBs have been designed in a format which will allow documentation of a trainee’s ability to perform each task. Successful completion of all tasks required of the position, as determined by an evaluator, will be the basis for recommending certification. IMPORTANT NOTE: Training requirements include completion of all required training courses prior to obtaining a PTB. Use of the suggested training courses or job aids is recommended to prepare the employee to perform in the position. b. Training courses and job aids provide the specific skills and knowledge required to perform tasks as prescribed in the PTB. Agency Certification is issued in the form of an incident qualification card certifying that the individual is qualified to perform in a specified position.



Responsibilities The local office is responsible for selecting trainees, proper use of task books, and certification of trainees, see appendix A of the NWCG Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualification System Guide, PMS 310-1, for further information.

National Wildfire Coordinating Group Training Working Team Position on Course Presentation and Materials The suggested hours listed in the Field Manager’s Course Guide are developed by Subject Matter Experts based on their estimation of the time required to present all material needed to adequately teach the unit and course objectives. The hours listed can vary slightly due to factors such as the addition of local materials. NWCG is aware that there have been courses presented in an abbreviated form, varying greatly from the suggested course hours. Instructors and students are cautioned that in order to be recognized as an NWCG certified course certain guidelines must be followed. These guidelines are: • Lead instructors are encouraged to enhance course materials to reflect the conditions, resources and policies of the local unit and area as long as the objectives of the course and each unit are not compromised. Exercises can be modified to reflect local fuel types, resources and conditions where the student will be likely to fill incident assignments. The objectives and intent of the exercises must remain intact. Test questions may be added that reflect any local information that may have been added to the course. However, test questions in the certified course materials should not be deleted to ensure the accurate testing of course and unit objectives. Test grades, to determine successful completion of the course, shall be based only on the questions in the certified course materials.

If lead instructors feel that any course materials are inaccurate, that information should be submitted by e-mail to NWCG Fire Training at nwcg_standards@nifc.blm.gov Materials submitted will be evaluated and, where and when appropriate, incorporated into the appropriate courses.

Wildland Fire Chain Saws S- 212

Wildland Fire Chain Saw Glossary
Pre-course Work
FEBRUARY, 2004 NFES 2644
Sponsored for NWCG publication by the NWCG Training Working Team. Comments regarding the content of this publication should be directed to: National Interagency Fire Center, National Fire Training Support Group, 3833 S. Development Ave., Boise, Idaho 83705. E-mail: nwcg_standards@nifc.blm.gov.

Additional copies of this publication may be ordered from National Interagency Fire Center, ATTN: Great Basin Cache Supply Office, 3833 South Development Avenue, Boise, Idaho 83705. Order NFES 1999.


C Faller Certifier. The highest level of certification for chain saw operators in the agency wildland and prescribed fire qualifications system. The C Faller Certifier conducts chain saw classroom and field training, evaluates and documents the performance of A, B, and C level chain saw operators and recommends to their employing agency their appropriate level of certification. Determination of qualification for this designation is left to employing agency discretion. ANSI. American National Standards Institute. Axe. A part of the faller’s safety equipment which serves many pounding and chopping functions. Can also be used to plumb the lean of a tree. Backcut. The last of the three cuts required to fall a tree. Located on the opposite side of the tree from the undercut (face) and minimally two inches (5 cm) above the horizontal cut of the undercut (face). The two inches (5 cm) is referred to as stump shot and prevents the tree from kicking back over the stump toward the faller. The backcut must never be continued to a point at which no holding wood remains. Variations of backcutting are discussed in side-boring backcut and side-notching backcut.


Banking. A method of disposing of cut material against the opposite (cold) side of the fireline. Barber-chair. Vertical split of a tree during the felling procedure. Commonly a result of improper facing and/or backcutting. Characterized by a portion of the fallen tree being left on the stump.

Base of Tree. That portion of a natural tree not more than three feet off the ground.


Bed. Prepared area upon which a tree is felled. BIA. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Bind. Series of pressures in the material to be cut. The two major components of bind are compression and tension. It is their directional pressures that determine the technique and procedure used while operating a chain saw.

BLM. Bureau of Land Management. Blowdown. An area of previously standing timber blown over by strong winds or storms.


Bole. A tree stem once it has grown to substantial thickness capable of yielding saw timber or large poles.

Boring. Method of using the bottom half of the guide bar tip to saw into the tree while felling or bucking.


Bottom Bind. One of the five basic tree positions commonly encountered while bucking. A tree in a bottom bind situation is tensioned on top and compressed on the bottom.

Bow Bar. An elliptical saw chain guide bar used for brush cutting. Its use is not suitable for falling or bucking wood over eight inches in diameter. No longer approved by manufacturers for use on current saws.

Brushing. Removing the brush and shrubs either during fireline construction or while clearing out a work area.


Buck. To saw trees and limbs into shorter lengths.

Butt. The bottom end of a felled tree.

Calks. Heavy boots containing numerous steel calks or spikes. A part of the professional fallers’ safety equipment used to promote secure footing.


Cant. A log with one or more squared sides.

Cant Hook. A lumberman’s lever that has a pivoting hooked arm and a blunt or toothed metal cap at one end. Cat-Face. Scar or deformed section at the base of a tree caused by rot or fire.


CFR. Code of Federal Regulations. Chain Brake. Safety device which stops the saw chain.

Chaining. Removing cut fuels into windrows away from the fireline perpendicular to the slope. Chain Saw. Saw powered by an engine or motor in which the cutting elements are on a circular chain. Chaps. Personal protective equipment which cover the legs from the waist to 2" below the boot tops. All wildland fire chain saw operators and swampers must wear approved chain saw chaps.


Clear Cut. An area in which all of the trees have been or will be felled, bucked and skidded to a location. When all the trees in a given area are felled. Compression. The act, process of, or result of compressing. Bind is a result of compression. Competent Person. A person capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or in the working conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees. Having so identified the situation, this person is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them. Conventional Undercut (notch/Face). One of the types of undercut (face) commonly used to fall a tree. The undercut (face) is at least 45° made up of one horizontal cut and one sloping cut that meet each other without overlapping.

Corner-Nipping. Special technique of partially cutting the extreme outside holding wood corners to prevent root pull, slabbing, and alteration of the desired felling direction. See side-notching backcut. Cutter (feller, bucker, sawyer). One who fells, bucks or limbs trees. Also, the cutting link of the saw chain. Cutting. The process of felling, bucking and limbing trees. Cutting Area. An area in which trees have been, are being, or are about to be cut.


Corners. The extreme outside position of the holding wood or hinge inside the bark on either side of the tree.

Crossing the Lead. Intentional or unintentional falling of a tree across the established falling direction. Although crossing the lead may be caused by wind, it is usually a result of improper falling technique. Danger Tree. See Hazard Tree. DBH. Diameter of a tree at breast height (4.5 feet above ground level).


Debark. To remove bark from trees or logs.

Devils Fork. A coniferous tree with multiple tops. These trees make head lean size up difficult. Direct Line. Any treatment applied directly to burning fuel such as wetting, smothering, or chemically quenching the fire or by physically separating the burning from the unburned fuel. Dogs. Metal spikes mounted on a chain saw near the guide bar designed to stabilize and support the chain saw during felling and bucking. Medium size saws will usually have an inside dog while larger saws will have an inside and an outside set of dogs. Chain saw dogs stabilize the chain saw increasing the sawyer’s efficiency in felling and bucking operations.


DolmarTM. A container which holds saw fuel and chain oil in two separate compartments.

DOT. United States Department of Transportation. DOI. United States Department of the Interior. Dutchman/Bypass. Results from the horizontal and/or sloping cuts of an undercut (face) not meeting or extending beyond each other. Very hazardous. Can change the actual felling direction and cause loss of control of the tree.


End Bind. One of the five basic tree positions commonly encountered while bucking. An end bind situation occurs on steep terrain where the force of gravity closes the bucking cuts.

EPA. Environmental Protection Agency. Escape Route. A predetermined path of exit used by fallers when felling or bucking. The essential components of an escape route are selection of the desired direction and distance, prior to felling or bucking, and a well cleared path through which to escape.


Experienced Person. A person who has been trained and has participated in the subject process for a period of time, long enough to thoroughly acquaint a person with all the facets of the job being performed. Face. The side of the tree aligned with the predominate lean and/or the intended lay. The side of the tree opposite from the backcut.

Facecut (undercut/notch). A 45° section of wood sawn and removed from a tree’s base. Its removal allows the tree to fall to the predetermined lay. The face is comprised of two separate cuts, which have a constant relationship; the horizontal cut must be of significant depth to allow adequate hinge wood; the sloping cut must be angled enough to allow a wide opening and the two cuts must meet each other without overlapping (Dutchman). Faller. A person employed in felling trees. Faller A. An individual being trained or evaluated in introductory level, noncomplex chain saw operations. Work of A sawyers must be under the supervision of a qualified Faller B or Faller C. Faller B. An individual certified at the Faller A level who has demonstrated sufficient judgment, skill and knowledge to be trained or certified in moderately complex chain saw operations. Certified Faller B individuals may work independently on project or fireline assignments up to their level of skill. They demonstrate the judgment to decline assignments that exceed their skill level.


Faller C. Individual who has demonstrated judgement and proficiency in correctly handling complex sawing and felling in wildland fire operations. Fell. To cut down trees. First Aid Kit. As referenced in this course, a kit including blood borne pathogen protective equipment (as a minimum, surgical gloves, face masks, eye protection, and CPR clear-mouth barriers) in addition to standard first aid supplies. Forest Service Approved. An item that meets Forest Service specifications and/ or drawings, or is procured under Forest Service authority. Fork Top (twin top). A coniferous tree with two tops. FSH. Forest Service Handbook. FSM. Forest Service Manual. Grounding. Contact between a container and the ground point, usually by wire, to prevent generation of static electrical sparks. Fuel containers and chain saws must always be filled on the ground, not in a vehicle, to establish an adequate ground. Fueling of chain saws must also be done on the ground (not on a vehicle’s tailgate), to ensure a positive ground is established.


Guide Bar. Long, thin projection of the chain saw upon which the saw chain travels. Improper use of the bar results in kickbacks and saw cuts. It is the extreme top and bottom of the bar’s tip that is sensitive.

Gunning (or Sighting). Technique of aligning the handle bars and/or gunning mark with the desired felling direction. Since the handle bars and/or gunning mark are at a 90° angle to the bar, exact position of the undercut (face), in relation to the desired felling location can easily be established. Not all saw handle bars are designed to be used for gunning. Check your saw.


Hands-on Training. Supervised training that demonstrates the application of knowledge and skill in a practical field exercise of proficiency. Hang-up. A situation in which a tree lodges in another and is prevented from falling to the ground.

Hazard Tree. A standing tree that presents a hazard to people due to conditions such as, but not limited to, deterioration or physical damage to the root system, trunk, stem, or limbs, and/or the direction and lean of the tree.


Head Lean. One of the two natural leaning forces found in most trees. Head lean is the most prominent outward slant or lean of a tree in reference to its base.

Heartwood. The inner layers of wood which, in the growing tree, have ceased to contain living cells.


Hinge Wood/ Holding Wood. Section of wood located between the undercut (face, or notch) and the backcut. Its purpose is to prevent the tree from prematurely slipping from the stump until it has been committed to the undercut (face). It maintains the tree’s alignment with the direction of fall. The holding wood must never be completely sawn off.

Horizontal (Gunning) Undercut (face) Cut. First of the two cuts required to undercut (face) a tree. Its depth is minimally 1/3 the diameter of the tree and level.


Humboldt Undercut (face). One of the types of undercuts (face cuts) commonly used to fall a tree. The 45° sloping cut (face) section is removed from the stump of the tree.

Indirect Attack. A method of suppression in which the control line is located some considerable distance away from the fire’s active edge. Generally done in the case of a fast-spreading or high-intensity fire and to utilize natural or constructed fire breaks or fuel breaks and favorable breaks in topography. The intervening fuel is usually backfired; but occasionally the main fire is allowed to burn to the line, depending on conditions. Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations. Interagency manual containing directives specific to wildland fire operations, including chain saw use. Jackstrawed. Area where multiple trees have been blown or fallen down in crisscross fashion. Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). Describes the potential hazards of the work site, along with all agency policies, controls and work practices selected to minimize those hazards. Kerf. The slot in the wood made by the action of the saw chain cutters. Keyhole. Openings cut into continuous fuels used to dispose of cut material.


Kickback. A strong thrust of the saw back towards the sawyer resulting from improper use of the top corner of the guide bar’s tip.

Lay. Refers to either the position in which a felled tree is lying or the intended falling place of a standing tree.


LCES. Lookout(s), Communication(s), Escape Route(s), and Safety Zone(s). Elements of a safety system routinely used by firefighters to assess their current situation with respect to wildland firefighting hazards. LCES has a much broader application than just fire and should be considered as a valuable, useful tool for all field project work and activities. Examples include chain saw operations, work in confined spaces, hazardous materials, and blasting. Lean. Refers to the directional tilt of a tree away from its vertical position. Many times two lean forces may be in play in the same tree. They are referred to as head lean and side lean.

Leaner. A tree which naturally leans heavily. Leap Frog. A system of organizing workers in fire suppression in which each crew member is assigned a specific task such as clearing or digging fireline on a specific section of control line, and when that task is completed, passes other workers in moving to a new assignment. Limbing. Removing the branches from a felled or standing tree. Log. A segment sawed or split from a felled tree.


MIST. Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics. Employed in areas where the visual or environmental impacts of fire suppression activities must be minimized, as in wilderness areas and national parks. MSDS. Material Safety Data Sheet. A compilation of information required under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Hazard Communication Standard that outlines the identity of hazardous chemicals and fire hazards, exposure limits, and storage and handling precautions. NFPA. National Fire Protection Association. NIOSH. National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health. No-Bind. One of the five basic tree positions commonly encountered while bucking. A tree in a no-bind situation is usually found on a flat lay. Notch. The section of wood removed from the face of the tree to prepare it for felling (also see facecut, undercut). NPS. National Park Service. NWCG. National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Sets standards for training, certification and equipment used in wildland and prescribed fire operations for member agencies. Offside. The opposite side of the tree from where the sawyer stands while bucking or felling.


Open-face Cut (or open-face notch). One of the types of facecuts commonly used to fall a tree. The open-face notch is cut to at least 70° (ideally 90°), with the top cut being angled downward 70° and the bottom cut angled upward 20°. The back cut is horizontal and at the same height as the corner of the notch.

OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Peavey. A lumberman’s lever for turning logs that has a pivoting hooked arm and metal spike at one end.

Pie Shape or Wedge Cut. A section sawn from a tree during the bucking sequence to allow for the directional pressures of various bind situations. Splits, slabs, and excessive wood-pulling are minimized when a pie shaped cut is sawn.


Pivot points. Pivot points can be stumps, rocks or any protrusion on the ground that affects a log’s balance or natural tendency to roll. An unseen pivot point may cause the ends of the log to swing around the pivot point.

Plumb. To gauge or assess the various vertical leans of a tree as part of the sizeup completed prior to felling.


Plumb bob. A tool used to establish the outward lean or slant of a tree in relation to its base. Generally a weight attached to a string. PPE. Personal Protective Equipment for eyes, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiration devices, and protective shields and barriers. In addition to PPE required for fireline duties, sawyers and swampers are also required to use approved chaps, eye and hearing protection.


Progressive Method of Line Construction. A system of organizing workers to build fireline in which they advance without changing relative positions in line. Puller. See Swamper. Pull-in. Pull-in occurs when the chain on the bottom of the bar is caught or pinched, and suddenly stops. The chain pulls the saw forward.

Push-back. Push-back occurs when the chain on the top of the bar is suddenly stopped by contacting another object or by being pinched. The chain drives the saw straight back toward the sawyer.

Pusher or Driver. Use of a tree to drive or push over another tree that has not completely fallen to the ground but has been faced and backcut. This is a forbidden technique for fireline operations. Machines should be used to mitigate this hazard.


Root Pull. The pulling out of a portion of the tree’s root system. Commonly a result of not cutting up the corner of the holding wood close enough on a large or heavily leaning tree (common on soft or saturated ground).

Root Wad. Mass of roots and dirt which projects above ground level after a tree has been pushed or blown over.

Safety. The condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury or loss. To protect against failure, breakage or accident. Safety Container. As defined by NFPA 30, an approved container of not more than a 5 gallon (18.9L) capacity having a spring-closing lid and spout cover and designed so that it safely relieves internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure. Safety Glasses. A type of glass or plastic lens that will not shatter when broken or compromised. Sapling. A small diameter tree under 4 inches DBH.


Sapwood. The outer layers of wood which, in the growing tree, contain living cells and reserve material.

Sawyer. A person employed in limbing, bucking and falling trees in non-complex situations. School-Marm. Natural dividing of a tree or log into two or more sections, and/or division of its top into two or more sections.


Side Bind. One of the five basic tree positions commonly encountered while bucking. A tree in a side bind situation is compressed on one side and tensioned on the other.

Side-Boring Backcut. Side-boring is a technique for establishing the amount of holding wood required to fall a tree. The guide bar tip is plunged into the tree behind the hinge wood above the undercut (face) to establish the back cut.

Side Lean. Side lean is the lean determined from the intended felling direction.


Side-Notching Backcut. Intentional alteration of the standard backcutting procedure to prevent loss of control and/or barber-chairing. This advanced skill method reduces the amount of holding wood remaining to be cut by cutting each side prior to the final across-the-back severing. Sit-Back. Refers to a tree that settles back on the stump closing the kerf of the backcut. Generally a result of improper determination of the tree’s forward lean and/or of wind, failure to place a wedge in the backcut.

Slabbing. Often caused by improper technique and/or sequence of bucking cuts which result in a lateral split of a log. Slashing. The cutting and piling of small diameter young trees or brush. Slope. The increase or decrease in altitude over a horizontal distance expressed in percentage. Sloping Undercut (face) Cut. The second of the two cuts required to undercut (face) a tree. It must be angled sufficiently to allow a wide-mouthed undercut (45°) opening.


Snag. Any standing dead tree or remaining standing portion thereof.

Sound. Descriptor used in tree felling, especially snags, in reference to the presence of rot in the standing tree. Sounding. Using the head of the falling axe to strike the tree to determine its soundness. Spike Top. Live tree that has a dead barkless top.


Spring Pole. A limb or sapling that is bent under a fallen tree. Usually under great amounts of pressure (tension) and is considered potentially dangerous until correctly relieved.

Staub. A short length of cut branch wood extending from the bole or the ground. Staubs create tripping and injury hazards. Strip. Area allotted to each sawyer or faller. Typically used in interior logging and leap-frogging fireline saw teams. Stump Shot. The height difference between the horizontal cut of the undercut (face, or notch) and the backcut. The difference in height establishes an anti-kick back step that will prevent a tree from jumping back over the stump toward the faller. It is the facecut side of the holding wood.


Swamper (or puller). Assistant to saw operator who carries fuel and tools, also engaged to move cut material such as brush or other objects. Swamp Out. To clean out brush and other material around the base of trees and where trees are to be bucked prior to felling or bucking as protection against saw kickback and to provide safe footing and escape routes. Tension. The act or action of being stretched. Opposite force from Bind. Tension causes throwback, splitting, barber chairing. Third Facing Cut. Special technique for making an “extra” facing cut to promote a proper undercut (face). Root protrusions, cat-faces, and rot are some of the common conditions that require a third facing cut. Throw back. Ground debris, limbs or tops thrown back toward the faller as the tree falls to the lay. Top Bind. One of the five basic tree positions commonly encountered while bucking. A log in a top bind situation is compressed on top and tensioned on the bottom.

Undercut (Gunning or Face Cut). The horizontal cut made in completing the conventional or Humboldt technique. Also, general term applied to the combination of the gunning cut and sloping cut. USDA. United States Department of Agriculture. USFS. United States Forest Service. 34

Wedge. A plastic or magnesium tool used by a faller to redistribute a tree’s weight to a desired direction (lift) and to prevent a tree from sitting back. Also used to prevent the guide bar from being pinched while bucking.

Widow-Maker. A loose limb or top or piece of bark lodged in a tree, which may fall on anyone working beneath it.


Windfall. A tree that has been uprooted or broken off by the wind.


Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.